PARIS: Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
– Half a million a day –
The number of new daily coronavirus cases increased sharply this week, by nine percent globally to 517,600, according to an AFP tally to Thursday.
– Merck pill gets EU okay –
The EU’s drug watchdog backs Merck’s anti-Covid pill for emergency use ahead of its formal authorisation and starts a review of Pfizer’s antiviral treatment as cases soar across Europe.
– Israel clears Pfizer for kids –
Israel will begin vaccinating children aged five to 11 from Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says.
Canada also authorises the Pfizer jab for the 5-11 age group.
– French booster for over 40s –
France announces plans for booster shots for the over 40s.
– Dutch New Year damp squib –
The Netherlands bans the setting off of fireworks over the New Year for a second year, as hospital workers battle a record surge of infections.
– Kimmich back in quarantine –
Unvaccinated Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich returns to home quarantine after having had contact with someone testing positive for Covid-19, ruling him out of at least two games.
– Austria locks down –
Austria is to go into lockdown from Monday and make vaccinations mandatory, becoming the first European Union country to take such stringent measures as cases spiral.
– Christmas markets off –
The neighbouring German state of Bavaria cancels all of its popular Christmas markets as a surge in cases sweeps Europe.
– Germany told to shut bars –
The head of Germany’s disease control agency calls for all bars to close, big events to be cancelled and private contacts limited to slow the spread of the virus.
– Japan’s half-trillion boost –
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announces a record $490 billion stimulus for the world’s third-largest economy to shore up its patchy pandemic recovery.
– Bulgaria ‘risk to EU’ –
The EU’s Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton warns that Bulgaria’s extremely low vaccination rate is “a big risk” to the entire bloc, with only a quarter of its people fully covered.
– Philippines to open doors –
The Philippines will soon welcome back foreign tourists as it prepares a partial reopening to vaccinated travellers 20 months after closing its borders to contain the virus.
– First case a woman –
The first known case of the virus was a woman who worked at a Wuhan market and was days later than originally thought, a top scientist claims. The investigation in the journal Science tips the scale towards an animal origin for the outbreak.
– Czechs bar unjabbed –
Only the vaccinated and those who have had Covid in the past six months will be allowed into bars, hotels, restaurants and other services, Czech authorities say.
– More than 5.1 million dead –
The coronavirus has killed at least 5,130,627 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT Friday.
The United States has suffered the most Covid-related deaths with 768,697, followed by Brazil with 612,144, India with 465,082, Mexico with 291,929 and Russia with 261,589.
The countries with the most new deaths were the United States with 1,279, followed by Russia with 1,254 and Ukraine with 725.
Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.